Learning in public: information literacy and participatory media
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This research examines new systems of information production that are made possible by participatory media. Such systems bring about two critical information literacy needs for the general public: to understand new systems in order to assess their products and to become adept participants in the construction of public information spaces. In this dissertation, I address both of these needs and propose a view of information literacy that situates the information literate as both consumer and producer. First, I examine a popular example of a new publishing system, Wikipedia, and present research that explains how the site is organized and maintained. I then turn my attention to the classroom and describe three iterations of design-based research in which I built new wiki tools to support publication activities and information literacy learning in formal educational contexts. I use the rhetorical notion of genre as an analytic lens for studying the use and impact of these new media in schools. Classroom findings suggest that the affordances of a wiki as an open, transparent publishing medium can support groups of writers in building a shared understanding of genre as they struggle with an unfamiliar rhetorical situation. I also demonstrate how writing on a public wiki for a broad audience was a particularly useful writing experience that brought about opportunities for reflection and learning. These opportunities include transforming the value of citation, creating a need to engage deeply with content, and providing both a need and a foundation for assessing information resources.